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Films: Ondine * *

(drama. Starring Colin Farrell, Alicia Bachleda, Stephen Rea, Dervla Kirwan, Alison Barry. Directed by Neil Jordan. cert 12A)

It's been the guts of 15 years since Neil Jordan troubled international box offices with his run of The Crying Game, Interview with the Vampire and Michael Collins, and this initially intriguing, but ultimately slight and confused movie, is unlikely to reverse his commercial fortune.

Originally playing as an Irish variation on the mermaid myth, we meet West Cork fisherman Syracuse (Colin Farrell, complete with the most ludicrous accent you'll hear on a screen this year), who's having a rotten run of luck on sea and on land until he finds a young woman (Polish actress Alicia Bachleda) tangled up in his nets. When she tells him her name is Ondine, the name of a legendary water spirit, he believes that she's a selkie (a mermaid from Irish folklore) and his luck is immediately transformed.

Farrell, despite the scarcely believable accent, is good value in the first half of the film, his screen charm easily conveying the sense of an essentially good man who's finally caught a decent break. However, a consistent tone is never really established and, despite some lovely cinematography and a show-stealing supporting role from Alison Barry as Syracuse's crippled daughter, the film fails to make any real sense, especially in the final third, by which stage all the goodwill deservedly earned in the first half is squandered.

If it's an Irish mermaid movie you're after then check out John Sayles's lovely 1993 film The Secret of Roan Inish and throw this one back in the sea. HHIII

Case 39 * *

(horror. Starring Renée Zellwegger, Jodie Ferland, Ian McShane, Bradley Cooper. Directed by Christian Alvart. cert 15A)

Left to gather dust in a studio vault for the past two years, the only apparent reason for this schlock-horror effort to see the dark of a cinema is because supporting actor Bradley Cooper was a huge hit in The Hangover.

The latest addition to the 'scary child' genre, the demon offspring in question is Lilith (Jodie Ferland) a girl whose behaviour brings her to the attention of child-services officer Emily (Renée Zellwegger), who becomes concerned that her parents are more than a little weird and fears for the child's safety.

Those fears are confirmed when she and a policeman friend (Ian McShane) break into the house just as Lilith has been forced into an oven and is about to be roasted by mom and pop.

Moving in with Emily, Lilith seems fine at first but weird things begin to happen: people start dying and director Christian Alvart resorts to every trick in the horror handbook to ensure the least possible damage to the reputation of everyone involved. He just about manages it. HHIII - GB